The life blood of Community is Trust. One more time - THE LIFEBLOOD of COMMUNITY is TRUST.
Here in a post that zeroes in on this critical point, Mark Glaser speaks about why he feels that Facebook is revealed as a business that will exploit the trust of its community. Craigslist remains true.
Here is Ben McConnell of the ever excellent Church of the Customer on the lessons:-
This is a very strategic moment for the talented Mr. Zuckerberg. The community ably demonstrated the passion it has for Facebook but in the bigger picture, it was an awesome demonstration of organizational power. The community claimed ownership of Facebook. It was a Holy Grail moment. It's what some brand managers, product developers, service companies and an array of grassroots-minded organizations pray for. It was a powerful Web 2.0 moment, too, illustrating how quickly a connected membership base can mobilize and take action.
I think this strategic moment now creates a decision fork for Facebook:
1) Acknowledge the community ownership by taking the eBay route and giving the community a voice and a vote in future development of tools and features or
2) Maintain the wheel of control like the captain of a ship and ask everyone to return to their quarters.
Facebook seems intent on following Fork Number Two. "About a week ago I created a group called Free Flow of Information on the Internet, because that’s what I believe in – helping people share information with the people they want to share it with," Zuckerberg writes, embracing the notion of information transparency. But then he declares the demarcation point the community is expected to remain behind: "I’d encourage you to check it out to learn more about what guides those of us who make Facebook."
I think that this too is the holy grail for public media - we too have to create a space for the Public - We too have to give up our control in the way that eBay has.
This is I think at the heart of our struggle and this is where all the opportunity lies.
I add the core of Mark's post in the follow on -
Facebook, and similar online communities, are built on trust and the community members must believe that their personal privacy will be respected by the site owners. Especially in the case of the closed communities of Facebook, privacy was paramount. But Facebook seems to be turning its back on the college and high school audience that helped make it successful. Instead, Facebook is planning to allow anyone to join the service. The closed college communities will remain closed to the general public, but the service itself is trying to become more like the highly commercialized MySpace in a race for more, more, more eyeballs on the site.
Facebook, like MySpace, is a business, and the community members are not human beings in the eyes of Wall Street analysts — they are simply dollar signs for a valuation for a big sale to a media company. Japan’s social networking site Mixi recently had an initial public offering, from which Forrester analyst Charlene Li extrapolated to mean that Facebook users were worth $18.60 each, for a total Facebook valuation of $139.5 million. That’s a far cry from the $2 billion — or $285 per user — that Facebook reportedly wanted in a buyout.
The story of Facebook is the ultimate in dot-com hubris redux from the late ’90s. A site builds itself up, collects millions of eyeballs and tries to go public or get bought out. Because going public is more risky these days, it’s better to sidle up to a sugar daddy like Rupert Murdoch of News Corp., as MySpace did, or perhaps Yahoo .
But these young turks who want to relive the bad old dot-com boom daze should take a moment and visit Craigslist . The site rarely adds any new features, and looks largely the same as it did five or eight years ago. But founder Craig Newmark cares about his community, and stays in touch with an amazing number of community members, helping them solve their disputes and set up community guidelines.
When he plays God, he’s not the vengeful God or angry God or greedy God. He’s the caring God who hasn’t exploited his community with flashy advertising and tons of paid walls. He makes enough money to be profitable, but doesn’t drive away community members.
Hopefully Zuckerberg can see the error of his ways and keep in mind that the members of his community will only stay in the community if they feel safe, feel respected and feel heard by him. Otherwise, there are plenty of other places online for people to socialize, and there’s no cost to leave and go elsewhere.
For more on the Facebook fracas, I highly recommend social networking scientist danah boyd’s essay, Facebook’s ‘Privacy Trainwreck’: Exposure, Invasion, and Drama . Here is a key passage:
…There is anger and confusion in every direction. Many people are pissed and they can’t fully articulate why. Others are screaming that they’re overreacting and that nothing changed. When it comes to bits, that’s true. But the architecture did change this week. And with it, so did the social realities of the site. Facebook lost some of its innocence this week. Even when things return to “normal,” a scar will persist. Yet, the question remains: what will the long-term social effects of this “privacy trainwreck” be?